News surfaced Tuesday afternoon that the domain name orlandocityb.com had been registered. This has led to speculation that Orlando City's upcoming USL reserve team will take the name Orlando City B. While some on social media have criticized the name, claiming that the reserve side should have its own identity, the name fits perfectly for the upcoming team.
Despite the fact that MLS's single entity structure technically means Orlando City's MLS and USL sides will be different, they will be run as the same club. The USL team will be filled mostly with academy products and senior team players that are not seeing playing time in MLS. It will be the final development step before MLS.
The idea that the USL team should have a unique identity is ludicrous. What would be the advantage of giving it a unique identity? The team will in no way be a destination, but rather a stepping stone to a higher level.
There is a potential problem with giving the team a unique identity. MLS reserve teams are new--the first one, LA Galaxy II, began playing in 2013. While the sport continues to grow more and more each year, there are still millions of people in the country that don't understand how clubs are structured around the world.
If this new USL team is given a unique identity, thereby disassociating it with the senior team, that may cause trouble at the gate and confusion among fans. Rather than understanding that this is a reserve team for the senior squad, many may think this is a new competing team to the current Orlando City club.
It's not just new soccer fans that would benefit by the name. Each year, MLS is getting more and more exposure in foreign countries. With new fans from other countries viewing our domestic product, those new fans will look at the clubs and most will probably look up each club's structure as well. When they understand the MLS-USL relationship, they'll probably look to the list of USL teams to see which MLS clubs are serious about youth development and have a strong structure.
If Orlando City's USL team is given a unique identity, fans seeing teams with names like LA Galaxy II, Seattle Sounders 2, and Portland Timbers 2 will not see Orlando City listed. It will look as though Orlando City doesn't have a reserve team. While this may seem like a trivial thing to worry about, it will make the club look as though they are less interested in a strong club structure and development which could detract potential fans, costing the team money.
By naming the team Orlando City II, Orlando City B, or something similar, the club is stating this team is a part of the Orlando City structure. They're emphasizing that the players on the team are a part of the club just as much as those that regularly feature for the first team. It's no different than why it's important that the other rungs of the development ladder are labeled Orlando City Youth Soccer and Orlando City U23s.
While millions of Americans understand the structure of clubs in countries like Spain and Germany, many still don't. But when someone who doesn't follow the European game sees a team called FC Barcelona B or Bayern Munich II, they undoubtedly know that the team they see is at least partly related to the popular senior team. Orlando City should follow this model.
Orlando City could give their new USL team a unique name, logo, and overall identity and it may not make a difference. But by naming the team something similar to Orlando City B, they're stating their intention for the team and the structure of the club. Players will climb the ladder from the Orlando City academy to Orlando City U23s to Orlando City B and finally to Orlando City's senior team.